I’ve called today’s briefing because I want to leave people in no doubt about how serious the situation we face is, and how vital it is that everyone - individuals and business - follows the advice that has been issued.
As of today 416 people have tested positive for Coronovirus in Scotland - that is an increase of 43 since yesterday. I want to stress though, as I have done before, that this figure is an underestimate of the true numbers of people who are likely to be infected.
It is also with huge sadness that I must confirm that 10 people have now died in Scotland – an increase of 3 since yesterday. My thoughts are very much with their loved ones.
Today we have also had to call on military help to transport a patient from one of Scotland’s islands to the mainland for treatment.
This underlines the fact that no part of Scotland will not be affected by this virus – no part of our country will not have people who either have it now or get it in future. And unfortunately no corner of Scotland is not at risk of seeing some of their residents die from it.
However – and this is my central and most important point – if we all do the right things now, we will reduce that impact and save lives.
If we don’t, we face many more people than would otherwise be the case becoming ill and dying, and we risk our NHS being overwhelmed.
I’m not saying this to scare people. I am saying it to leave you in no doubt about the seriousness of the situation we face.
And I’m saying it to stress the importance of all of us following the advice that has been issued – it is for our own protection and for the protection of those most at risk of becoming seriously ill.
So let me be clear.
The advice should not be considered optional – it should be seen instead as a set of rules to be followed.
To protect Scotland we must all do the right thing.
Life shouldn’t feel normal just now. So if your life still feels entirely normal, ask yourself if you are doing the right things, or if instead you might be putting yourself and others at unnecessary risk.
Every time you think about meeting up with or coming into physical contact with others, ask yourself if it is really necessary. And if it is not, please do not do it.
Don’t go shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and when you do please keep a safe distance of 2 meters from others.
Shops that have to remain open should be ensuring responsible social distancing.
Don’t gather for parties at people’s houses or in groups for, I’m sorry to say, wedding receptions and other celebrations.
When you do go outside, and of course it’s okay to be outside, don’t crowd together in the park or on the beach because that can be almost as dangerous as going to the pub.
If you go out in the sunshine follow the social distancing guidance – go on your own or with one or two others in a small family group. Don’t gather together in bigger crowds.
Beaches should not be busy, parks should not be full.
And if you are over 70 or in a vulnerable group – I know this is hard – but the advice to stay at home is for your own protection.
To businesses, please follow the rules and support your employees to do so too.
Unprecedented support is rightly being made available to you to ensure that wages can still be paid even if your employees are not at work.